I’m Only Sleeping

“Time to wake up,” he said, opening thick curtains before sliding into the chair by the foot of her bed.

She blinked her eyes awake but did not try to shake away her grogginess. “There’s a Beatles song about sleep, you know?”

“There’s a Beatles song about everything,” he replied, fishing out a newspaper from his bag.

“But this one is different,” she murmured into her pillow.

“Why?” He asked.

“Because, it is the song that made me understand.”

“Understand what?” He looks up from his newspaper, listening.

“It’s okay to be lazy.”

Her eyes had closed again but she could imagine his forehead furrowing with anger. “It most certainly is not ‘okay’.”

She sang the song through a yawn.“Running everywhere at such a speed; Till they find there’s no need (There’s no need).”

“There most certainly is a need,” he implored with a hint of anger, “Your Majesty.”

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream.”

Carl’s Mathematics Dilemma

Carl tried to keep his eyes away from the clock. He had been trying, and failing, for the last three hours. Instead, he swung his feet under the table, doodled onto the margins of his worksheet and, with each thirty minute chime, he would walk to the window and wait.

Carl waited for his mother.

But he doesn’t want you to think this is some sad single mom tale! His mom isn’t struggling as a waitress or bartender or naughty dancer. His mom is an engineer, a great engineer, for the US Navy. She knows so much stuff! All the numbers make sense to her and she knows how to check the equation so the math turns into a backwards riddle.

Mom was awesome. She was just late again.

The timer buzzes from the oven and with one last look outside the rain-fogged window Carl moves to shut it off.

Mom had left him his favorite because she is awesome.

Only, he didn’t want to eat alone. He thought of Mr. Quaid across the hall with his smelly cat and tiny furniture but didn’t want to hear him complain about the tenants upstairs. He just wants to eat his favorite casserole with someone nice but all his friends were far away until school tomorrow. He wants to eat with his mom.

His eyes flicked to the clock again. He should complete his math worksheet; have it done before the morning so his mom doesn’t get mad. He clicks on the television instead and continues to wait amongst the blue glow of the screen. Mom is better at math and math will be better when Mom is here.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Land of Confusion.”

Treachery in the Kitchen

“Those dishes won’t clean themselves.” Momma reminded us with a hip perched against the doorframe. She watched over her horde of offspring as we licked the last of the syrup off our plates, lips smacking into sticky smiles.

“I made breakfast.” Rich, my older brother, replied. He knew the sentence removed him from dish-duty and crossed his arms smugly because of it.

My younger sister shouted. “I wash them!”

It wasn’t that she loved dishes, she just hated everything else.

Momma nodded, approving Jane’s enthusiasm with a tired smile. She took a moment to watch the seven year old lather up the sponge before turning back to the remaining four of us.

“And the rest of you?”

Saturday was chore day in our household. It was akin to Sunday gamenight, in that it was just as horrible but for completely different reasons. No one wanted to spend hours around the dining room table with their siblings (especially ones that acted like complete dorks) any more than they wanted to clean the gutters – at least, that’s how I felt about game night. Jane and Charlie loved it.

“I’ll mop.” Anne told the pages of her book.

Crap.

Mopping, dishes and cooking were officially taken and if I didn’t say something soon I’d end up mowing the –

“I got the bathrooms!” Charlie, barely ten, shouted triumphantly in my face before walking to the bleach. My teeth clenched.

I looked out the window to where the summer rays had grown the grass nearly a foot, where heat rose from the ground to blur the green blades, where the unrelenting sun would be laughing at me for the next couple of hours. It was a sweltering eighty-five degrees outside and my siblings just tossed me into the Pit of Carkoon.

Traitors.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Those Dishes Won’t Do Themselves.”

Caged

It’s funny how you only want to leave when someone locks you in. I was free before this –no, more than that, I was eager to be here. My fist had pounded on the entrance door for a moon’s turn, until my knuckles ran raw.

This place is a salvation, a home to feed and clean and love and keep you. None of those things come easily on the outside.

There’s a saying across the ocean: nothing good comes for free. Now, I’m here, reaching for keys that months ago were a warm weight in my pocket.

“Lights out.” I used to find peace in the schedule. My mind would quiet an instinct that felt caged, because I had the keys. Freedom was a choice then.

“Nightly song begins now.” The Voice bellows.

I croak familiar lyrics with the others, they are words of hope; they are the words that brought me here. They say this is part of initiation, succumbing to the hopelessness. We are not forewarned how long this part will last.

My feet trail along the stone floor as I reach for the keys, so close but always too far. Eyes watch me try and fail, try and fail.


Written for the Flash!Friday Writing Challenge. These elements but be included:

(1) Required story element (this week: theme. If you want your story to be eligible for an award, the below theme must be central in it. Note: read the history & examples of this theme here.)

Catch-22

(2) Photo prompt to incorporate:

Keys. CC2.0 photo by Apionid.

Every City Has a Heart

Her feet move her forward through another unknown land – though, this one carries the same familiarity of most, with a city square (or centro or plaza or piazza) at its heart, a place for locals to gather.

She sits and watches the people pass her by. Sometimes the clothing is different, more colorful or dark black; sometimes they saunter by leisurely, friendly, and other times they keep their eyes on their feet.

It all depends on where she ends up.

But she knows one thing: sitting in a café, having a conversation with the person behind the counter, is the only travel guide she needs.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Happy Wanderer.”

Jack and Jill

For twenty-nine days of the month, I am Jill. I know Jill; I can predict how Jill will react. Jill backs away from confrontation and dives into gossip, Jill smokes a pack a day and drinks more coffee than necessary because I like to feel the jittering down my veins. My long blonde hair is my pride and joy; I flirt my way into clubs and out of trouble. I am Jill.

Until, I’m not. Every full moon I transform. I become Jack.

Jack is unpredictable. Jack butchers my hair and talks with his fists. Jack forces Jill to wake up in the bed of some random man or woman. Jack tattoos our shared skin and poisons us with hard drugs. Jack remembers the confrontations Jill backed away from, seeks them out, and administers his own form of justice. He remembers the gossip and exploits it.

I sometimes envy Jack, I almost always hate him.

In one night he burns it all down. Everything Jill can predict and plan, Jack brings to the ground.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Full Moon.”

Snuggle-Buddy

My knees ached something fierce. The walk home from the park used to be easy when Paws was a puppy but that was almost a decade ago. The years show on one of us and it isn’t the energetic American Bulldog by my side.

He, on the other hand, is in perfect health, no joint aches or muscle sores, just excitement and adventure. He’s smart, though, and senses my struggle. My kindhearted Bully slows down and allows our pace to turn to something more leisurely.

Later, once we get back home, he’ll spend a solid fifteen minutes licking the park off my legs and hands. Then he’ll jump up next to me on the couch, turn in a circle a few times, before collapsing next to me for a nap. I may nod off too, with my legs up on the coffee table, petting his fur.

He is my companion, my friend, the reason I go to the park every weekend and the snuggle-buddy in my bed. Even if my husband wants to get in on the snuggles, Paws will reluctantly make room, but only if he’s in the middle of us both.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Menagerie.”

Capital Train

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Polite Company.”

The corner of his eye twitched with annoyance. The train was his time to sit, quietly, with his thoughts. The train was when he decompressed from work, when he let his eyes drift closed and used the train’s rocking to sooth away work’s inane stresses.

The synthetic seat cushion crinkled as someone sat down next to him. He heard a woman’s soft sigh and felt the brush of her leg as she swayed her feet.

“These train’s sure do get packed, huh?” The woman spoke. He clenched his teeth.

“It’s rush hour.” He mumbled because he couldn’t sit there and let the question hang in the air, as much as he wanted too.

“I always forget people actually, like, work here.” She gripped her museum bag more securely in her lap. “With all the sights and cherry blossoms.”

“It’s the nation’s capital…” He wouldn’t open his eyes or get pulled into the conversation.

“You work at the capital?”

“Different branch.”

“What?”

“Executive branch.”

“Oh,” she paused. “Him.”

“Yes, the President.”

She huffed. “Not my President.”

“I’m pretty sure he’s everyone’s President, mam.” His teeth gritted.

“Well,” she smacked her lips, “we’ll just agree to disagree.” Silence then, until the train pulled to a stop and the woman left.

The man leaned his head against the window feigning sleep as yet another tourist filled the seat next to him.